A stunning satellite image released by NASA has captured the extent of the devastation left by one of California’s deadly wildfires, as the crews fighting them are gearing up for potential flash flooding Wednesday.
The image of the area around Malibu shows that the Southern California Woolsey Fire – which has burned 1,500 buildings to the ground and damaged hundreds more in a 151-square mile range – has created large enough of a scar on the state’s landscape to be visible from space.
“Burned vegetation appears brown and unburned vegetation appears green,” NASA said in a statement about the image, noting that its colors have been enhanced. “Buildings, roads, and other developed areas appear light gray and white.”
The Woolsey Fire as of Wednesday morning is almost entirely contained. Rain looms in the forecast today for much of California, which could help firefighters trying to extinguish the blazes elsewhere – but it could also complicate efforts to recover the remains of those killed and find people who continue to remain missing. At least 870 people are still unaccounted for.
"The task is arduous," Rick Crawford of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told the Associated Press. "And the possibility exists that some people may never be found."
The Camp Fire in Northern California has burned an area about the size of the city of Chicago and has left at least 81 people dead, while destroying around 13,000 homes. It is currently 75 percent contained.
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the area affected by that fire – which includes Paradise and nearby communities, as well as regions charred by wildfires earlier this year in Lake, Shasta, Trinity and Mendocino counties.
Three people died during the Woolsey Fire, and residents in those Los Angeles-area communities were observed stacking sandbags as they prepared for possible downpours that threatened to unleash runoff from hillsides left barren by flames.
Less than a year ago, a downpour on a fresh burn scar up the coast sent home-smashing debris flows through Montecito, killing 21 people and leaving two missing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.